detroit budget

The Detroit budget department is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday to hear from residents what they believe the city’s budget priorities should be.

Representatives from a number of city departments will be present at the hearing, including fire, police, health, public lighting and public works.

John Roach is a spokesman for City of Detroit. He says because of the bankruptcy, the budget this year is a bit different from a typical city budget.

Detroit’s bankruptcy case is throwing a wrench in the city’s usual budget process.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan didn’t give his charter-mandated city budget address as scheduled Monday.

Rather, officials told City Council members that Detroit needs to update its plan of adjustment first. That’s the city’s restructuring blueprint for getting through bankruptcy.

Detroit chief financial officer John Hill said that since the plan will shape the city budget, it doesn’t make sense start talking now.

  Everybody knows that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was thoroughly corrupt. He currently is sitting in jail waiting sentencing in federal court on his latest round of convictions.

His political career is dead and his chance at being free is over, at least for years to come. But you can easily make the argument that, at least in terms of cost to the taxpayers, the administration of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is worse.

Certainly Ficano has wasted far more of the taxpayers’ money than Kilpatrick’s grubby crimes cost Detroit. One of the enduring mysteries of state politics is why this man is still in his job. Michigan’s largest county has lurched from scandal to scandal.

There was the case of Turkia Awada Mullin, the crony who somehow was vaulted over far more qualified applicants, made head of the airport authority and given a two hundred thousand dollar “severance” to go from one job to another.

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Detroit files for bankruptcy

Governor Rick Snyder has approved Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.  It is now the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. History.  Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that “the governor says bankruptcy will ultimately offer creditors some assurances on how much they will be paid. A federal judge still has to approve the request.”

University of Michigan grants in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants

Yesterday, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the provision of in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.  Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports that “undocumented students will have to show they attended middle school and high school in Michigan to get the lower tuition rate.”  This comes after two years of lobbying from activists and undocumented students.

Last chance for Inkster and Buena Vista school districts

The Inkster and Buena Vista school districts have until Monday evening to prove that they can finance the 2013-2014 school year.  If funds cannot be found, the districts will then be closed.  Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that “if Inkster and Buena Vista are shut down, their students would go to other schools in the intermediate school district.”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Each week, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry, and weekend host Rina Miller look back on the big news events in Michigan. You can listen to their discussion above. Below is a short summary.

Lawsuit over Taylor School District contract tossed out

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Wayne State University hosts Detroit's first public budget meeting

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s Emergency Manager, told the public Monday night that the city is “technically insolvent” and suffers from an “addiction to debt.” “Orr says Detroit’s chances of avoiding a Chapter Nine municipal bankruptcy are still ‘fifty-fifty,’” reports Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek. Mlive.com reports that 100 people were shut out of the meeting after it exceeded the auditorium’s capacity. 

Evidence does not link bullet to I-96 shooter

Ballistics tests have shown that a bullet recently recovered from an I-96 driver did not come from weapons taken from Raulie Casteel’s home.  According to the Associated Press, “Casteel faces terrorism and other charges in two dozen random shootings in a four-county area last October.”

Potential DNA testing for suspects

Michigan lawmakers are considering a law that requires DNA sample collection from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony. Currently, DNA samples are taken from people arrested on suspicion of murder, rape, and other violent felonies. According to the Associated Press, “civil liberties advocates say collecting DNA before someone is convicted violates the presumption of innocence.”

Stephen Boyle

Earlier this morning, Detroit’s city council voted unanimously to override Mayor Dave Bing’s veto of budget cuts proposed by the council.

Last week, the mayor rejected changes the city council wanted implemented in the city’s $1-billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14, including cuts to his own office. The Detroit News reported:

“The council wanted deeper cuts to Bing's staff and quicker implementation of a new health care cost-sharing formula.

Bing however did not turn down deeper cuts the council recommended for its own department and the consolidation of its divisions.”

The council's override of Bing's veto was unanimous (8-0). Charles Pugh, the president of the council, said this was proof that the council was “standing united.”

But with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr at the helm of the city’s finances, how much does a united city council matter when it comes to Detroit’s budget?

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Jeb Bush endorses school choice at Mackinac Policy Conference

"Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told a large business and political conference on Mackinac Island that Michigan and other states should clear the way for more charter and online schools. He also urged Michigan to stick with the Common Core education standards," reports Rick Pluta.

Michigan Democrats push for marriage equality

Yesterday, Democrats in the Michigan state senate announced their intent to introduce legislation repealing the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

"Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor says polling shows more Michiganders support gay marriage than just a year ago. She also said that married couples enjoy a host of legal protections, and removing Michigan’s ban would ensure gay couples can be legal parents to their adoptive children," according to the Associated Press.

Snyder comments on sale of DIA collection

"Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he hopes Detroit’s financial crisis doesn’t force emergency manager Kevyn Orr to sell off items from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art... Orr says the DIA’s collection could face sale if Detroit seeks bankruptcy protection...Snyder said yesterday at the Mackinac Policy Conference that the DIA is ‘important to the livelihood of the city" and that "the goal is not to sell the assets of the DIA in a wholesale fashion,’" the Associated Press reports.

The Detroit City Council has approved a more than $1 billion budget for the city’s upcoming fiscal year.

That budget is nearly the same as the one Mayor Dave Bing proposed last month.

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In this week in Michigan politics, Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the possibility for an emergency manager for Detroit, lawsuits against the state’s right to work law and funding for dredging the Great Lakes.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says the city might “borrow” personnel to replenish its management ranks.

Bing says Detroit is “very stretched, very light at the management level” right now. The city has hacked away at its management ranks to cut costs in recent years.

Officials have said that lack of expertise, especially at the middle management level, is now holding back the city’s effort to make structural reforms—but there’s no money to fix it.

But Bing says the city is trying to get help another way.

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Governor Rick Snyder says the Detroit mayor and city council are operating under some tight deadlines if they want to avoid a state takeover.

A formal state Treasury review of the city’s finances is underway.

Governor Snyder’s been critical of the slow pace and infighting that have delayed Detroit’s compliance with a consent agreement with the state.

Mayor Dave Bing and the city council took some actions this week, but the governor said things need to move more quickly.

Rick Jones

Detroit is at a political impasse that could lead to a financial collapse next month.

Now, one state legislator is saying Lansing should consider “all its options”—including possibly dissolving the city as a municipality.

The idea of dissolving Detroit—and effectively merging it with Wayne County—has popped up occasionally in some business and political circles recently.

But mid-Michigan senator Rick Jones is the first official to publicly discuss that as an option.

Jones says Detroit’s local leaders just aren’t dealing with the city's fiscal problems—and having the state’s biggest city file for municipal bankruptcy would be “horrible.”

“I think everything is on the table,” Jones said. “ I would be willing to consider dissolving the city, if that’s what it took.

“One of the options could be actually dissolving the city of Detroit, and putting all of their functions back into Wayne County. That is possible.”

Still, Jones acknowledges this merger scenario is “unlikely.” He says the prevailing discussion in Lansing is about bankruptcy versus some kind of state intervention.

Lawmakers in Lansing are also considering passing a revised version of the emergency manager law voters overturned in November.

Detroit faces the possibility of running out of cash in mid-December.

Efforts to resolve a dispute that’s pushed Detroit to the brink of financial crisis flopped again on Monday.

Mayor Dave Bing called a special meeting with the City Council, hoping Council members would approve a contract with law firm Miller Canfield.

Lansing is sitting on $30 million in Detroit bond money because Council didn’t approve that contract, which was part of a “milestone agreement” between Bing and state officials.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says he’ll resort to mandated employee furlough days before letting the city go broke.

The city is facing a likely $18 million cash shortfall next month. That’s despite having a consent agreement with the state that’s intended to avoid just such a crisis.

This week, the Detroit City Council voted down a contract with a law firm. That relatively small item was crucial to the city’s cash situation because it was part of a “milestone agreement” laying out conditions for releasing Detroit bond money the state is holding in escrow.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says the Detroit City Council has pushed the city to the brink of another cash crisis.

The Council voted Tuesday to reject a contract with the law firm Miller-Canfield.

Bing maintains that approving that contract was part of a so-called “milestone agreement” with the state, which is holding $30 million Detroit bond money in escrow.

Wikipedia

The head of Detroit’s firefighters union says the department is in “utter chaos” after new overtime restrictions came down this week.

City officials acknowledge the situation is difficult, but say it’s under control.

Union chief Dan McNamara says the drastic overtime restrictions—announced by memo to firefighters earlier this week--will basically cripple a fire department that’s already understaffed.

Detroit’s community access centers are one casualty of the city’s ongoing cost-cutting.

The centers, also known as neighborhood city halls, get no funds in Mayor Dave Bing’s proposed budget.

Their functions—like organizing the annual Angel’s Night and Motor City Makeover campaigns—will be shifted to neighborhood recreation centers.

But Detroit City Council members question how that transition will work without any funding. Bing’s proposed budget eliminates funding for several city departments.

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Governor Snyder will lay out details of a proposed consent agreement to members of the Detroit City Council on Tuesday.

Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who leads the state review team looking at Detroit’s finances, have suggested a consent agreement for weeks.

That measure could give the city’s elected officials broad powers similar to those of an emergency manager.

Detroit's Fire Commissioner says his department is at the end of its resources due to budget cuts.

Donald Austin spoke to a Detroit City Council committee meeting on Monday.

Even with the cuts, Detroit’s Police and Fire Departments take up well over half of the city's budget. And both departments regularly go over-budget, mostly because of overtime.

Austin says it’s proven almost impossible to cut overtime, when he has to fight so many fires in vacant buildings--which total 30-60% of all department runs, depending on the shift.

Members of the Detroit City Council want more answers about how the city will avoid running out of cash.

Mayor Dave Bing hammered out tentative agreements with most city employee unions, including police and firefighters. They worked as a state review team continues to pore over Detroit's finances, as part of the process that could lead to the state appointing an emergency manager for the city.

Detroit’s elected officials had hoped to resolve some big questions about the city’s financial future Tuesday.

But that didn’t happen.

Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing say the only way for the city to avoid an emergency manager is to get big union concessions.

Bing had hoped to get those concessions by the end of January. But the self-imposed deadline came and went without a deal.

In the meantime, the Detroit City Council met to discuss drastic actions the city might have to take if no agreement materializes soon.

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A published report says state law requires the cash-strapped city of Detroit to cut its income tax rates starting July 1 unless the Legislature steps in.

The Detroit Free Press reports Wednesday the requirement is from a 1998 law that was part of a deal to preserve a state revenue-sharing payment and would total about $8.5 million.

The newspaper cited an analysis from the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Detroit sought a waiver from a state administrative board in December but was denied. Mayor Dave Bing says he will seek legislative help again because the city needs to keep "every
dollar" it can get.

A state-appointed review team is working to determine whether a financial emergency exists in Detroit, a step that could lead to an emergency manager.

Detroit’s elected leaders are still struggling to come up with a unified plan to avoid a state takeover—even as a state review team continues work in the city.

The Detroit City Council has been critical of Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to save more than $100 million this fiscal year to prevent the city from running out of cash.

Members suggest it contains too many optimistic revenue projections and unrealistic assumptions.

The Council has its own list of suggestions. But in the end, they can do little more than offer them to the Mayor.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A former long-time auditor for the City of Detroit says he’s not surprised the city is running out of cash. “I was a Detroiter, still am at heart, for 49 years,” Harris said. Joe Harris also served as Detroit’s auditor general from 1995 to 2005. He’s been the state-appointed emergency manager in Benton Harbor since March 2010.

The Detroit City Council has rejected one member’s efforts to slash its own budget.

Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown wanted to cut the council’s roughly $13 million budget by a third.

Brown says that’s the same level of concessions city unions are being asked for to avert a fiscal catastrophe in Detroit —and the council should lead by example.

“That’s $5 million the unions don’t have to look for, that we don’t have to ask the unions and the lower-wage city employees to come up with," Brown said. "I think that’s leadership.”

But most of Brown’s colleagues rejected the measure. They said 30 percent was an “excessive” cut that would damage the council’s ability to function.

Council member Ken Cockrel Jr. says the council has already cut its budget about that much over the past three years, and additional cuts could damage the council’s ability to do its job.

“What it really comes down to is, you can do cuts that are responsible for the sake of sharing the pain, or you can do cuts that are really all about trying to score political points,” Cockrel said.

Cockrel says if it wasn’t for Council’s diligence, the depth of the city’s fiscal crisis might never have come to light.

Members ultimately voted the measure down 6-2.

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A recent report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan highlights a sometimes overlooked part of Detroit’s current fiscal crisis: the city’s debt and legacy costs.

According to the report, Detroit has about $14 billion in liabilities (though about $5.2 billion of that is for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and thus shared with its suburban customers).

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Organizers behind a petition drive to repeal Michigan’s emergency manager law say they’re launching an all-out blitz for signatures.

Their campaign ramps ups just as the state starts the process that could lead to an emergency manager in Detroit.

Opponents of Public Act Four say it violates the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions by removing local elected officials from power. They also say it’s being used disproportionately to disenfranchise African American voters.

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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and other city leaders stood side-by-side at city hall Thursday night, saying they’re all ready to work together.

The show of unity comes as the city scrambles to stave off a state-appointed emergency manager. Governor Snyder has threatened to send in a financial review team that would initiate that process if the city doesn’t get its act together.

Both Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit City Council have put forth proposals aimed at avoiding a state financial takeover.

A recent cash flow report suggests the city is likely to run out of cash by spring, and be $45 million in the red by the end of June 2012.

Bing, who announced 1000 city layoffs last week, issued more details of his proposal Tuesday. They include, in addition to the layoffs:

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